Road trips are a fantastic summer activity for the entire family. Whether you’re driving across the country to visit family or heading down to the beach, hitting the road, just you and your loved ones, is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lives. Road trips have a reputation for being a cheaper alternative to flying and a more enjoyable alternative to long bus and train rides, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as important to save a little bit of money during your vacation. Road trips are a great way to have you cake and eat it too, especially with these money-saving tips.
1. Come Up With A Budget
As with most things that require a good amount of spending, budgeting is the key to not digging yourself into a hole of debt. When traveling, especially with road trips, it can be especially easy to overspend, which makes creating a cohesive budget before your trip pretty essential. First, discern how much money you have to spend on your trip, factor in every expense, from food, to fuel, to entertainment. Make a realistic budget, putting away a decent amount of money for each category and always remember to put away a little more than may be necessary and factor in a little extra change for emergencies and spontaneity.
2. Make Sure Your Car is In Good Shape
If you are planning on driving your own vehicle rather than renting one for your road trip, it is important to make sure your car is in the best shape possible before you hit the road. Your family will be spending a pretty considerable amount of time in your vehicle so you’ll want to make sure it is safe and ready for a long-haul trip. Make sure all of your tires are in good condition, along with your oil, and other mechanics. Solving these minor problems before they even begin can keep you from having to visit unknown mechanics in strange places and having to waste a lot of money in the process.
3. Pack Your Own Snacks
If your road trip is really long it probably won’t be possible to pack enough snacks to last you the entire journey, but you can definitely get off to a good start by stocking up beforehand. Try buying things like water, juices, pretzels, etc. in bulk, and check out local grocery stores for things like fruits when you stop for gas. This will keep you from getting tempted to stop for chips and sodas too frequently throughout your trip, wasting both time and money.
4. Utilize All of the Free Attractions
Entertainment costs money, there’s definitely no denying that. Paying for day passes at an expensive water park along the way, taking a stop to catch a movie, and not to mention all of the shopping, and while all of these things are fun, you might be missing out on tons of places that are just as enjoyable as they are cheap. America, especially, is full of completely free attractions like national parks, museums, and zoo’s that are completely free to the public and serve as a source of educational entertainment for the entire family.
5. Find The Cheapest Gas
One of the worst parts about road-tripping (and driving in general) is just how much gas prices change and fluctuate depending on the day, region, and sometimes hour. To avoid spending a ridiculous amount of money on gas, try downloading gas price tracking apps like GasBuddy. This app helps you find the cheapest gas prices nearest you based on your location so you don’t have to worry about overspending on that precious, precious fuel during your trip.
6. Eat Locally
Food is one of the best parts of traveling, you get to try exciting new foods that you wouldn’t normally be exposed to when you hit the road, but it can also be pretty easy to stick to your old favorites and frequent chain and fast food restaurants while road-tripping. Instead of getting sucked in my McDonald’s try choosing local mom and pop restaurants and diners, these establishments are typically much cheaper in the long run and offer healthier choices, as well.
7. Find Inexpensive Lodgings
You would be surprised by how many extremely affordable housing accommodations are available when traveling. Try to avoid hotels as much as possible, searching for cheap bed and breakfasts, Airbnb listings, and even completely free campsites. Saving the majority of your money on lodgings will allow you the freedom to experience new things and give you some more wiggle room in your budget.
8. Keep Your Cool While Driving
Traveling is exciting, but it can also be pretty exhausting as well, especially when you’re headed towards a specific destination. This excitement and restlessness can cause drivers to try their hardest to get there faster, which usually means a large amount of speeding. Not only is this dangerous for the entire family, but it eats away at fuel at a pretty fast rate and wastes more money that is necessary. Try your hardest to keep a nice, steady pace while driving, you will have more than enough time to get to your destination.